Welcome to Fantasy Artist Ed Beard JR's Biography Page

Here is a sample of just a few companies and types of products Ed Beard Jr's works can be currently found in main stream
retail markets and licenses with in the US and world wide:

Wizards of the Coast : Magic the gathering card game over 100 cards for this game

Over 100 game cards and RPG illustrations created for more than 10 different game companies

Verizon Mobile:
Licensed wallpaper and down load content, Fantasy Art Dragons and Wizards.

Midnight Syndicate : 2 Album covers “Dark Masquerade” and “A Time forgotten”

Steven Spielberg  Dream Works Studio
Fright Night 2011 the motion ,  feature character- shirt design worn by David Tennant

Tolkien Enterprizes Tolkien realated images

Orange UK Mobile Phone Co.
Licensed wallpaper and down load content, Fantasy Art Dragons and Wizards.

Tide Mark / Calendar manufacturer:
Ed Beard Jr's works can be found on the best selling annual Dragon Calendar from TideMark.
Ed Beard Jr. has been the official Dragon calendar artist for 5 years now. The TideMark Dragon
calendar the best selling calendar in that category and price structure. You can find the
calendar everywhere from Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books A Million and just about all retail
book store including online stores such as Amazon.com just by doing a Google search on
"Dragon calendar Ed Beard Jr."This calendar is also sold heavily in Europe as well.

The Mountain Corporation/ worlds largest and distributed T-shirt manufacture of wildlife
and Fantasy T-Shirts, As listed in their catalog Ed's designs have been the best selling Dragon
and Wizard designs consistently for the past 9 years.

Ladelle PTY LTD/ Fabric and textile bed linens etc Australia new Zealand and EU: Dragon
Wizards comforter sets, bath mats, floor mats, throws cushions.

Ceaco Puzzle Manufacturer/ Worlds largest puzzle manufacturer, supplying to major retailers
such as: Wallmart, Target, K-Mart etc. Dragon Wizard Puzzle 8 years best seller in that category.

Ravensburger FAO Schmidt Puzzles/ Worlds largest collectible and educational market
manufacturer of Jigsaw Puzzles.

Great American Puzzle/ one of the longest standing Puzzle manufacturers in the US.
Cobble Hill Puzzles/ largest Canadian and second largest US manufacturer of high end Jigsaw

Tree Free Greetings cards/ largest manufacturer of eco friendly greeting cards sold in all auto
and truck stop franchises in the US as well as several restaurant store chains such as Perkins
Tate & Co/ Greeting cards and Coffee Mugs and collectibles.

In the Wood/ Custom engraved and Tile Boxes

Heaven and Earth designs and Essentials/ Largest manufacturer of cross stitch products sold
at all major craft and Hobby stores world wide.

Skinit.com the largest selection of lap top, Xbox, game console, cell phone and other electronic
device skin design

A biographical interview with Ed Beard Jr

Q. Where did you grow up and what was it like? (School, friends, family, noteworthy experiences?

I grew up and went to grade school in Rhode Island in the late 60's and 70's, and went to elementary school in the Edgewood section of Cranston until 8th grade and then my folks moved to the Western side of Cranston where I finished High School at Cranston West.

Back then there were no computers, cell phones or technology to play with. back when  we were forced to use our imaginations. I wasn't especially talented back when I was 10 yrs old and spent my time, like many kids in those days, playing with toy cars and toy figures and of course playing manhunt and riding bikes. Oh and yes, getting in trouble with my mother every time I road my bike in the street.

Things all changed one early spring day back when I was in 5th grade. I remember  watching a slide show depicting the Renaissance Masters works like Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.  I had never seen anything so awesome with their grotesque figures and powerful anatomy. The Last Judgment with all the demons and tortured souls was in fact my first exposure to fantasy art and illustration in reality.

I remember that I couldn’t wait to get home and buy a book on these great Masters of art. Keep in mind, before that day I was like any other kid; my life would not be the same from that moment on.

Q. Were the people around you encouraging toward your path to becoming an illustrator?

Yes, but not right away, after getting that first art book on Leonardo, I became obsessed with learning everything I could about the artists of the Renaissance as well as their techniques. It became so bad of an obsession that my parents thought I was having a breakdown of sorts. I went from a normal kid who had friends and loved to go outside and play to becoming a reclusive 24 hr a day artist who wanted nothing to do with the outside world. I spent hours a day studying anatomy, learning their Latin terminology and basically doing everything the great masters did, or as close as I could get being only 11 years old.

So for a while my parents tried to force me to go outside and all I did was get angry and more determined to keep drawing. After the first 6 months of copying every classic piece of art I could find in books (at this time all B/W), I was advancing very fast in my abilities. By the time I was 11 years old I was advanced enough in my studies and ability that my parents couldn't ignore what their friends and my teachers were saying about my work. Shortly after that I started getting commissions from political officials and religious organizations to create art for them, thanks to an article the local paper did after my father and mother spoke to them about how overnight it seemed I became quite proficient in drawing. Through all of this my Grandmother was the most supportive. She bought me my first oil paints and supplies and allowed me to paint with oils in her apartment even though the landlord would have given her heck if I spilled any on the carpet.

The other aspect of my teenage years was dealing with being a small wafer of a kid and  always getting the crap beat out of me at school by the typical dregs of the neighborhood who had nothing better to do than torment the skinny kid with glasses. However, like everything I did at that time, I became obsessed with training for power-lifting using my knowledge of the human anatomy in a more practical way. By the time I was 18 yrs I had entered my first competition and placed 3rd in New England and by age 21 yrs I had won first place and set a record in the dead lift for my weight class. Needless to say the bullies stopped harassing me or anyone else I protected.

Q. Did you receive any kind of formal training or education, or was it all self taught?

 I am self taught, but inspired by a brief encounter with a mentor named Eugene Tonoff

Q. What was the experience like?

It wasn't until that next summer when I was 11 that I met a well established artist named Eugene Tonoff who had a television show on local PBS that gave me my first professional review. I remember him telling me that he had never seen a child so young and in such a short period of time create the art I did. He offered to give me an easel spot in his adult classes for me to draw and paint to my heart's content. Although I didn't have any formal training, I spent that summer surrounded by college age and older students who gave me much support. Of course they also teased me when the nude female model would pose for life drawing and they all noted that I barely looked at the subject. Sadly Eugene passed away that the next year and I was unable to go back after that summer. Although he did not directly tutor me with techniques etc. he gave me the most important gift a teacher can give, he gave me confidence, inspiration and the confirmation that I could be whatever I wanted to be in the art world.

Q. Have you ever had a chance to meet any artists that inspired you along the way?

Being a teenager in the 70's I was exposed to the best in fantasy art with great album covers like Molly Hatchet painted by Frank Frazetta and Rock posters from Roger Dean and of course Dungeon and Dragon greats like Larry Elmore. I never got to meet Frank before he passed away but I did get to meet Larry Elmore and in fact we are good friends, he wrote the foreword in my art book The Enchanted Realm that came out a few years back.
As teenagers, we were given the best of the best art to get excited about as fantasy, Horror and Sci-Fi was just starting to come into the mainstream products and movies full force with Heavy Metal the animated movie, and the Hobbit animated movie.

Q. What was it like getting started as an illustrator? First projects, biggest projects, favorite/worst projects and clients?

Well at first I didn't focus much on becoming an illustrator so when I turned 17 I started a sign painting and wall mural business along with automotive airbrush for hot rods and Harley's.

Since I got kicked out of high school art program for creating images that were more fantasy based than the modern cubism or artsy fartsy things the teacher demanded of us, I was never going to qualify for grants or even be accepted into any art college. At that time if you did not have any art program on your transcript you pretty much weren't going to get into a decent art college. In fact I applied to RISD in person and was told by the dean that there was nothing he felt I could offer the school because I was already established (I had created several large scale murals that were covered by some big name news papers at the time), he told me that the school demanded that the student be molded into the product of the school and that they only sponsored students that would be a great spokesperson for the school not someone like me who had already been kicked out of high school art who clearly has his own way of doing things. So once again I was motivated even more to become a success in defiance of the status quo.

Back in those days, and without the internet, you had to mail photographs of your art to the editors of the book publishers and wait. Ninety nine percent of the time you would receive the same form letter stating that your work was just not what they were looking for. All that changed the year the internet became mainstream. I remember getting an e-mail and website in 1992 and getting images to showcase my work on it. At the same time my wife and I loved comic books so we decided to check out a local comic book owner to see what comics were up to over the past 10 years we stopped reading them. Shortly after talking with him and his seeing my work I started doing some comic book airbrush T-Shirts and making some money from that. One day the owner asked me if I had ever considered going to Gen Con, the biggest gaming convention around, in Wisconsin. I told him I had never heard about it but I might be interested. he also suggested Dragon Con, a Pop culture show, with a great art show where many of my favorite fantasy artists exhibited.

So after raising enough money to rent a booth at Dragon Con, I decided to pack our crappy little car and trek down to GA to Dragon Con. Now by this time I had been working on producing my own fantasy art card set so I figured it would be a great place to showcase it to the public for the first time. After the first day or two the public showed a serious interest in the card set painting I had on display. After that show I set my sites on getting the art card set produced and at the same time go to Gen Con. It was 1992 and so I packed up the clunker for yet another long trip and headed off to Gen Con. The show opened and I was standing in my booth with my art on display behind me when this tall Norwegian guy from a little known company called Wizards of the Coast approached me. He asked me if I would consider working for an upcoming card project that he was calling Magic. He told me of the card needing art that would only be displayed about 1x1.5 inched in size with the bottom half of the card having text instructions. He offered $50 per card, shares in this rinky dink company and royalties. Considering I had just gone through a bunch of companies who failed to pay me for my art as well as underpaying me for my work I just was not in a gambling mood that day so I declined the offer. Wow was that the worst gamble I had ever made. By the next summer Magic was a multi-million dollar product and quickly becoming the biggest game product of all time. So just when I thought I was out of that loop, I received a call from that same art director asking one more time if I would now consider working for the company. Naturally I said yes this time and although they weren't offering anymore shares they were offering royalties and now a whopping $100 per card.

After my first set of illustrations for Magic The Gathering hit the international market I became a requested artist on many other game products including Dungeon and Dragons and hundreds of other role and card game products. At the same time , well actually the year before, I produced my own card set which did well enough, but the days of the full card of fantasy art were dying off by then and Magic the Gathering and other NON art cards ruled the marketplace so it was the end of an era of the collectible art card market.  From that time to the present I have created over 1000 published works for companies like Verizon, Orange UK, The annual Dragon Calendar, Jigsaw puzzles, T-shirts by the Mountain Corporation, Skin-it lap top and cell phone cover skins and a slew of other licensed products.

Q. What business challenges you face as a freelance artist?

As with any business you come across unethical practices and clients unwilling to follow the contract, so sadly you have to be ready to legally defend yourself. One such company was none other than Wizards of the Coast, who refused to follow their own contract and pay a royalties owed when they used my art, and several other artist's work, for licensing to a Screen Saver company that sold a CD of all our art just to float around a screen. Our contract stated that anything NON game related would be paid a royalty. Since art images floating around a screen that you don't play a game with would qualify as non-game related, I had to file a lawsuit against them. Nearly 8 years later they finally agreed to provide me with the earnings statement for that product. Come to find out they made so little money on the product it would have only paid me about 1/100 of what the attorney would have been paid. Hasbro spent well over $10,0000 to fight me over what they knew was only a few hundred dollar settlement, go figure. So these kind of breaches in contracts occur for artist/illustrators as well. The biggest daily fight is preventing copyright infringement when people think they can do whatever they want with your intellectual property. It's amazing how many thieves there are out there and many sadly are other artists who either are too lazy or unethical and use your art to create derivative products or just plan rip your art off and resell it as their own. Outside of these legal concerns, it takes knowing your customers interests, dedication to your craft, long hours and a constant will to be better than you were in the last painting. You should always be pursuing the next benchmark in your skill or final product. As for marketing, the freelance artist must be everywhere all the time not just sitting painting in the studio. If you rely on anyone else to promote you, like an agent, you will not succeed as no one can promote you like yourself and people want to meet the creative mind behind the art not through an agent or salesman.

Q. What do you do now in your freelance  artist career and how different is it from what you have done in the past in your career?

A lot has changed in the way artists and illustrators work for the collectible products industry. back when I started and for the first 15 years the only way to create art was to actually "hand paint" the work.  However, I remember seeing how Photoshop was starting to become the media of choice for younger illustrators and saw the writing on the wall that soon there would be very little original tangible art to buy and sell for collectors. So keeping a watchful eye on the digital age in art I started a campaign of sorts to bring awareness to the slowly dwindling hand painted techniques and creations of one of a kind actual tangible art. I knew that there would always be a desire for collectors to own something no one else had and hang with pride that original painting on their wall, so I made a concerted effort to advertise the fact that I still hand paint everything.

I was attacked from all angles by the younger digital artists who pretty much by 2004 hadn't picked up a real paint brush in college at all and became totally dependant on the wacom tablet and programs like Photoshop or painter. Ironically my campaign was on celebrating the hand painted original art form we were losing in the fantasy gaming field more than trashing digital created images. Heck, I  had learned Photoshop in 1994 and used it in the layout or tweaking for client's product boxes or other manufactured goods. I simply pointed out to these digital illustrators that they were short changing themselves and losing another great source of income by the sales of the original art to collectors. Why not kill two birds with one stone if you have the skills to do both.

At first it fell on either deaf ears or fierce rebuttal, but now years later, many of the same young artists who worked only in digital programs found themselves a victim of the publishing industries lowering rates for art on the grounds that they have far more competent illustrators now thanks to these digital programs streamlining the process and in truth allowing infinite corrections whereas with tangible mediums a mistake can be fatal for the piece. This attribute of the digital art program created a huge supply of freelance artists as compared to years before where hand painting was not something the vast majority of creative people could master. Simply put, the more difficult and time consuming something is, without ability to quickly fix an error, the fewer people can or will do it. These program's ability to streamline the process created a saturation of the job market and thus lowered the pay scaled as basic supply and demand principals applied.

So now years later, these same illustrators come to me asking me how I survive in the collectible illustration field and I remind them of how 10 years ago I told them that hand painted art in fantasy will become a highly collected and rare commodity and that in order to survive economically they will need to start building a fan and collector base. Well that's what I did and as a result 85 % of my income comes from art I am creating for commissions to private collectors as compared to 15 years ago where it was the exact opposite at 15% original art and 85% for the publishing industry. The best part is each original painting I do is cherished forever and not placing hundreds of hrs worth of work converted to binary code on a CD. Worse still, that will only serve the purpose to advertise a product this month and be forgotten 5 years from now with no original art for a collector to buy. The reality is that humans want to have things that are special and unique to them and original art is a way for them to live a fantasy of their own in visual terms.

I have also returned to my roots in custom automotive and motorcycle airbrush art. I did that for about 10 years back in the late 70's and early 80's and got out of it because of the chemicals and the damage it did to my lungs. However, now thanks to water based technology, I can get back into creating one of a kind art on a different type of canvas, a metal one. Car enthusiasts are just as much if not more appreciative of hand painted craftsmanship and will reward those few, that have the skill sets, handsomely.

 Q. Do you have any advice for anyone seeking illustration as a career path?

The best part of my career has always been helping young aspiring artists to become successful. I have been a teacher of airbrush and illustration, done hundreds of seminars and lectures about how to succeed in this field as well as created instruction videos to demonstrate my unique techniques, but the best advice I give to those wanting to achieve success in this career has always been "passion and dedication".

You have to be willing to survive the worst of times. When all you see are rejections that's the time you must persevere and never quit. You have to challenge yourself to be the best at what you do and have an undying passion to achieve it. You need to be objective about your work and listen to what the public is telling you they like and what they dislike. If you stay confined in your studio then you will only relate art that you like. The best part of going to conventions and showcasing my art has always been getting the feedback from potential collectors and building relationships with those who appreciate your work and are moved by your creation.

You have to be unique in your content and style and not a knock off of someone else's work or style just because it may be the flavor of the month. You need to be dedicated to maintaining the quality of your work even when you are getting a lot less money than you did on another job of equal size and work.

You have to be diversified in your subject and skill sets for the more variety and tools you can master the more options you have to succeed as a freelance artist. Most of all you have to eat, sleep and breath your art otherwise anything less will simply not suffice and the people who may collect your work will know it. Love what you do and live what you do. I've been at the for more than 30 years now and made a good living, own a nice house, raised two children who want for nothing and did all of this being a non-college graduate with no financial backing and doing exactly what I got kicked out of art class for doing when I was a kid.  I have been blessed with this gift to create visual images of the coolest things we can imagine. It seems to me to be what this old soul has done long before this life's incarnation so I suppose I've done ok and so can anyone else if they apply these principals.
Ed has been Airbrushing custom auto and bikes for over 33 years and has won best Mural and Best of show for his DragonLord Van
Check out his automotive videos and website by clicking on the link below










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